Customer Review

81 of 89 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Current state of State Dept policy and use of technology. Not particularly visionary, May 30, 2013
This review is from: The New Digital Age: Reshaping the Future of People, Nations and Business (Hardcover)
I meant to give this a three star review, not one. I've been in the tech industry for over twenty years (Microsoft, Oracle and Telco industry). I had built up high hopes to read something that wasn't obvious and everything in this book is relatively obvious and not in the future at all. If you're not in the tech industry and particularly if you work in foreign policy, this book is a must read. It appears to me that Jared contributed more to the book than Eric Schmidt. I encourage you to read both of their backgrounds to understand from where their perspective is grounded. I enjoyed the international historical examples that peppered the book, presumably coming from Jared. Now to the more critical concerns I have with the book. It's not visionary. The future examples are usually obvious or show some naivete and lack both depth and breadth. I am concerned that it reads like a book written by the progressive part of our US government instead of a broader view. The criticism in the first fifty pages of Assange shows a clear alignment with traditional US government views and ignores the broader questions and issues around transparency. There was little to no discussion about some of the big technological/policy battles in this space that are taking place daily and accelerating. For example - is the fourth amendment still relevant in the modern world where it becomes increasing impossible to maintain privacy? What about the new NSA Utah datacenter and Stellar Wind type projects which leave all up citizens lives bare? And how is the increasing secrecy of governments along with the increasing openness of citizen data creating potential imbalances in society? What about the other elephant in the room with regards to corporate storage of the same information about citizens? And how those corporations like terrorists have become globalized and are not necessarily loyal to a particular government? How will these issues affect the future? And what is Google's role vis-a-vis government? If corporations and governments collaborate (given the above) what does that mean for society? I'd like to have heard a bit about censorship too. For example, both Google and Facebook crowdsource the flagging of content that is deemed to violate policy. But what is the recourse for those who were censored? Does the person who has been censored even know they have been censored? Do the people who read what the person writes know that they were censored? How does government policy relate to the area of censorship, especially when national security is involved? Is online censorship aligned with first amendment interpretations of freedom of speech - for example speaking on a street corner? Hate speech is protected in person, what about online? Who decides if online entities make their own decisions about free speech and ignore previous first amendment interpretations? What potential issues are there as large government and corporate organizations can perform sophisticated clustering, predictive analytics and graph search on populations without oversight? And how does targeted advertising and the analytics cross and become nearly identical to national security monitoring goals? How inter-country relationships being affected in their policies by globalization. What does it mean when countries collect and share information on each other's citizens. What if the internet pages I see are different than what others see due to the ability to target groups and people to filter/change content? As a subtle example, when I post to Facebook, how do I know which of my friends see my posts? Can the algorithm change who sees my posts based on which analytical groups I'm associated with? What about technologies like PGP which have been around for a long time which allow people to be secure, verify who they are, vote online securely? No mention. And evoting and encrypted communications as a default was also not mentioned. The tension between "national security" and citizen rights as defined by the Bill of Rights was completely glossed over. The book also is too heavily weighted on the technology end. There is assumption that technology will cure much of what's wrong. But anyone who's worked in this space for awhile knows that people are where it is at. You enable people and let them do their thing. And culture is very important. Technology can only be an enabler. Sometimes our intelligence and defense industries evidence too much technology heavy bias in their solutions. The Boston bombers were not really caught by technology, contrary to the impression left. PEOPLE phoned the police. The technology was in a supporting role. And that is our responsibility in the tech industry. Not to get too smug with what we can build but instead empower others and stand up for their rights in the process. Wikileaks, whether you agree or disagree with it, was effectively causing us to question whether the increasing imbalance between who has access to information can be addressed. Governments and corporations are stockpiling histories and predictive analytics about us and changing what we see. Assange, for all his faults, was advocating his own way of shifting the balance back towards an even keel. Put another way, if people now have no privacy, maybe corporations and governments as organizations should also have no privacy. It's an interesting counterpoint. I also fear that the book sides with more activist attempts to create change in countries that align with US policy objectives. We need trust and openness. To that end, the work of Google and the US government to advance human rights should be open and not perceived as manipulative. Being manipulative can result in blowback that undermines the goal. People distrust motives. Especially if human rights and Internet Freedom/communication is not supported equally worldwide. If I had to guess, I suspect that Jared will rise quickly to a high position of power in the US government. My hope is that we think not just about how we can achieve ends with technology, but also how to inspire trust and openness about our leadership in these areas that are so important to everyone.
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Showing 1-5 of 5 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jun 2, 2013 7:29:26 PM PDT
Vermonter says:
Great review, thanks. Just wondering if you read Assange's review in the NY Times.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 3, 2013 6:33:59 PM PDT
Interesting. I just got back from being "off-grid" in Yosemite. A lot of similarities.

Posted on Feb 25, 2014 11:43:43 AM PST
excellent review. thought provoking as well.

Posted on Mar 20, 2014 11:25:09 AM PDT
[Sent] says:
Seeing as how the majority of literate people in the world (what, 80%, that seem fair?) are not in the tech industry, to which you say that this book is a "must read", don't you think your 1-star rating of this book is a bit asinine?

I'm glad I actually read the comments and just don't look at the star rating alone at the top, so I could see idiotic down-votes like this one trolling the rating system. I suspect that the former Oracle employee is acting like his previous employer and is trolling a Google employee.

Posted on Sep 24, 2014 5:56:39 PM PDT
You can edit the review to change it to three stars. Nothing these guys say matters -- they have absolutely no clue about holistic analytics, true cost economics, or open source everything (engineering).
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